Fifteen More Minutes

by on September 1st, 2012

I am leaving on a trip Sunday morning, and the mere thought of going to the airport got me thinking. It got me thinking about the power of 15 more minutes. Let me explain.

There are three ways most of us generally travel.

The first is what most of us will. You think about your flight time, map out your trip to the airport and then leave on time. Along the way, you do your best to avoid traffic, repeatedly checking your smart phone to make sure you’re on track. But by the time you walk inside, you’re five minutes behind. You consider cutting security but don’t losing more time than you thought, and by the time you get through security you realize you’ve another five minutes, maybe even ten. So you take throw your computer inside a different part of your bag, get repacked as fast as you can and pick up the pace. Many of us can’t get that food we were craving, some of us are forced to start jogging, hoping … praying the doors haven’t shut. In the end, you barely made your flight.

The second way is to leave for the airport 15 minutes earlier. We don’t rush because it feels so early. You don’t spend time checking your clock and never once did you consider jogging, let alone running.

The third way, is to avoid the whole timing issue and leave way ahead of time, and spend hours waiting around in the airport. Less common, but some people do it. But this is largely just a waste of time for anyone that’s busy. So we can ignore this.

If you travel the first way, you’re sure to get stressed out. You’ll maximize your time but also maximize chances of missing your flight, sweating by the time you get to your seat and not having enough space for your carry-on.

If you travel the second way, you don’t stress. There’s no chance of missing your flight. And if you want it, you can grab a bite on the way.

So what’s the lesson you ask? It’s probably different for everyone. But here are three:

  1. First, is that sometimes 15 minutes can make all the difference.
  2. Second, is the importance of buffer time. Even just a little can change your entire day.
  3. Third, the easiest thing to do is to do what we’re supposed to – in this case leave on time. But sometimes adding a little extra can make all the difference.

So the next time you have a flight … or better yet … any important appointment, meeting, due date or deadline, think about which experience you want to have. And it’s especially relevant for all of you considering applying to graduate school.

In most cases, option #1 will be the most tempting but just a tad bit of extra time can make all the difference.

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